Sunday 9 September 2018

And more about Oktoberfest and other drink-related differences
Let us know what you think about table manners.

Excerpt from Chapter One.

Table manners constitute an important part of cultural competence whether you travel on business or for pleasure. Or host people from other countries in your hometown. A trifle, like how you like your beer served can leave you out, preventing you from joining in and enjoying the fun.

Say you are English and go to Oktoberfest in Munich. You like beer; it is your drink of choice. You anticipate your first mass (beer mug 1, holds 1 litre). You know how you like your beer to look, how you like it to taste. And here it comes. With a beer head a third of a mug tall. That’s how they do it in Germany. Beer should have a head. Even if you serve it at home.

Many English friends and colleagues of mine felt puzzled. Andrew even asked the waiter directly “and where is one-third of my beer?” He felt cheated. Paid for a whole litre and got two-thirds of it.

Germans coming to England and getting their pints full, clean and clear are known for asking publicans not “to kill the best there.”[i]

A colleague of mine, Karsten, sporting a rather depressed face after his first pint served “according to the local” standards at Highgate pub, which he insisted was frequented by Karl Marx, went as far as getting beyond the bar and grabbing the bartender’s hand in order to ensure he gets his beer the way he likes it. Karl Marx, still in Highgate, just a few hundred meters away down the hill, surely approved.[ii] The bartender wasn’t amused.

According to Euromonitor International data, reported by (Akkoc, 2014), Germany consumes an estimated 110 litres of beer per person totalling nearly 9bn litres per year in total. UK – only half of the total amount, 4.3bn litres, which translates into 67 litres per capita. Maybe beer with the head really knows better when it comes to sales?

Differences in how you serve alcohol are not limited to beer only. The British “large glass” of wine doesn’t exist in Austria. Serve it and you would be considered a low class alcoholic. You can order a “viertel” (quarter, the same 250 ml) but it will be served in the jug and the waiter will pour only something like 125 or even less in your glass.

[i] You can read more on how to pour different beer German style here:
[ii] Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetery East. He moved to London in 1849 and died there in 1883.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Let us know what you think about table manners.

Wherever you go, one of the things you take with you is your (table) manners. Apparently, people still dress up for special occasions. At least they think they do. The Times (UK) published today a small piece about Oktoberfest in Munich. A straightforward guide on how to offend your host. And it is not about how you hold your beer glass, or, to be precise, your one-litre mass. It is more about the inappropriate cultural appropriation of traditional dress. Or is it just having grown-up fun?
Oktoberfest backlash at ‘porn’ outfits
The Times

Outfits such as low-cut dresses and lederhosen have been embraced rather too enthusiastically by some British visitors to the Oktoberfest in Munich

Outfits such as low-cut dresses and lederhosen have been embraced rather too enthusiastically by some British visitors to the Oktoberfest in MunichHANNES MAGERSTAEDT/GETTY IMAGES

For the people of Munich, preparations for Oktoberfest this month not only involve laying out trestle tables and rehearsing oompah bands but also girding themselves for an influx of scantily dressed British tourists.

While Britons may think that they are paying their hosts a compliment by wearing lederhosen and dirndls, German cultural figures are quietly appalled that much of the clothing is a pornographer’s interpretation of Bavarian traditional dress.

The irritation spilt over this week as a Munich-based crime author asked in a newspaper interview why so many people felt the need to dress in the Bavarian style.

“With the young women it often looks like porno dresses, short and low-cut and cheap material,” he said. “It has nothing to do with identity.”

The number of people wearing Bavarian folk costumes to the world’s biggest beer festival, which starts on September 22, has surged over the past decade.

Franz Thalhammer, 70, an accordionist and former chairman of Munich’s Georgenstoana Baierbrunn folk group, said that women’s costumes were a travesty of the real thing. “A dirndl is something nice, it can make almost anyone pretty. But some of the dresses you see these days are crazy,” he said. “You go in a tent and it’s full of paralytic Australians and Italians and they’ve forked out €250 [£224] for a complete Bavarian outfit and think they’re Bavarians. It’s as if I’d walk around half-naked and say I’m Australian.”
Fancy dress shops in Britain said that when they offered their customers a choice, they preferred sexier versions.
Ulku Stephanides, who has run the Carnival Store in Kensington, west London, for 29 years, said that female customers heading to Munich had a set idea of how they wanted to look. “For women, we have either knee-length or shorter than knee-length dresses. People used to have a normal size. Now, because models are wearing these costumes, the girls come to the shop and they say: ‘I want to look sexy’.”
Ms Stephanides, 55, said that she had visited Germany during Oktoberfest and found that although locals preferred knee-length skirts they were just as risqué when it came to the cut of the dress. “They have their boobs out,” she said.
Her customers also wanted to show plenty of cleavage. “That’s the new generation. Last week I was serving one girl; she was like the Queen of Sheba. She was buying a costume for £20 and taking photographs to show friends on Instagram. She said: ‘I don't look sexy enough. I have to go to Germany, to Oktoberfest’.” Some 6.2 million people attended Oktoberfest last year and drank 7.5 million “Mass” or 1 litre glasses of beer. Britons were in the top ten among foreign visitors. Many newcomers take the spontaneous decision to buy lederhosen at Munich airport.

Lederhosen made from inauthentic materials is a waste of money, a Munich outfitter said
Lederhosen made from inauthentic materials is a waste of money, a Munich outfitter saidGETTY IMAGES

Benedikt Daller, a Munich outfitter, said that lederhosen with multicoloured stitching looked plain silly, anything made of cowhide or pigskin was a waste of money because it would tear, elaborately embroidered shirts were unacceptable and neckerchiefs were an “absolute no-go”. It really has to be deerskin or goatskin, he said.
In the 1980s and 1990s anyone wearing Bavarian dress at Oktoberfest would have stood out unless they were performing in an oompah band or serving beer. Now, putting on folk costume has become a ritual of the festival, alongside queueing, trying to smuggle beer glasses past security and coping with double vision after downing the potent beer brewed exclusively for the occasion by six Munich breweries.
Michael Ritter, a researcher at the Bavarian Regional Heritage Society, suggested that young people were simply trying to find a sense of identity in a globalised world. He added that it was ridiculous to claim that there was a single authentic style because fashions changed over hundreds of years. Many designs stem from the 19th century when they became fashionable among the Bavarian and Austrian aristocracy. Mr Ritter said that the costumes raised awareness of Bavaria’s historical dress, which originated in the Alps where cattle herders needed tough leather trousers to take livestock across rough terrain and through thorn bushes.
“I know of many women who bought a cheap €50 dirndl made in the Far East and realised how pretty it looks,” he said. “Then they buy a second and a third and a fourth and go for higher quality every time.
“It’s the same with lederhosen. Our tailors are doing good business despite the foreign competition.”
For Mr Thalhammer, Oktoberfest will rise above controversies over cheap clothing. “Six million people from all kinds of nations go there and party and toast each other and there’s hardly ever any trouble,” the accordionist said. “It makes you think, why can’t the whole world be like that? But maybe it’s because they’re all drunk.”

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Jam or cream first? 
Let us know what you think about table manners.

Embed from Getty Images
So the debate is finally settled. Or is it?

Tuesday 19 June 2018

The most popular dishes on Deliveroo Let us know what you think about table manners. 

Embed from Getty Images

If you want a home delivery from the restaurant which would not deliver otherwise, call Deliveroo. Many do. The data published by Deliveroo early this year makes me wonder: how many dishes are in the top ten in the UK which you can not eat with your hands? (Yes, rice is eaten by hand in India. Yes, Debrett's agree that pizza is finger food. And many other dishes too ).

Deliveroo UK's top ten most-ordered dishes 2017

  1. Cheeseburger, Five Guys – London, UK 
  2. Boojum's Twojum, Boojum – Belfast, UK 
  3. Chicken Katsu Curry, Wagamama – London, UK
  4. Cheese 6oz American Cheeseburger, Gourmet Burger Kitchen – London, UK
  5. Chicken Tinga Burrito, Mission Burrito – Bristol, UK
  6. Medium Grilled Chicken Burrito, Tortilla – Brighton, UK
  7. Crazy Salmon Roll, Kenji Sushi – Edinburgh, UK
  8. Byron Burger, Byron – London, UK
  9. Dead Hippie Burger™, MEATliquor – London, UK
  10. Oahu Bowl, Ahi Poké – London, UK

But cutlery is still in high demand. 
Increasing interest to prepare different cuisines and special gourmet dishes at home, gaining popularity of concept of social dining and fine dining concept, and growing popularity of casual dining are likely to drive the global cutlery market growth. Further, growing number of households across geographies will influence aggregated demand for the products. Increasing use of edible cutlery is one of the major trends that the market is expected to witness during the forecast period. Cutlery Market - Global Outlook and Forecast 2017 - 2022
Fingers, beware.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Dinner talk - how small?
Let us know what you think about table manners.

From time to time everyone rebels against the tradition claiming it is a waste of time or old-fashioned ritual better forgotten. Like small talk when you meet people, especially those you don't know very well. They re-discover the importance of meaningful, deep-going conversations and the joy of getting to know other people forgetting that unchattered waters could be murky.

What is your relationship with God? What is something you fear in life? These may be great topics for conversations, but we rarely tackle such meaty topics at social gatherings. Instead, our discussions usually centre around summer travel plans, the latest home repair horror story and, of course, the weather.

This is a shame.

Banning any exchange of little pleasantries at your dinner party might be fun. You don't need a degree in psychology to know that some change is always welcome. Especially a little, safe, reversible change. When you can enjoy its freshness with a certain degree of security knowing that you can always talk about weather again.

Do you want you party to be a success? By all means, ban all small-talking. But make it a game. With all the rules, penalties and the possibility to stop it if the weather becomes stormy. The article quoted above claims
 everyone was happier. As added proof, two dates came out of the evening. Perhaps meaningful conversation also makes us more attractive?
Perhaps sometimes. And sometimes, perhaps not.

People love playing games. Because they know - at some point it will be safely over.
Image source:

Friday 8 June 2018

Enjoy your dinner. Whatever the table manners. Think about people you like. Think about people you never knew but found inspiring. 
Let us know what you think about table manners. 

Memorable quotes from
Anthony Bourdain

Coffee keeps me going until it’s time for wine.

And the ritual seems to be the same. At least according to Austrian Nespresso.
This poster "The Art of Coffee Tasting. WATCH-SMELL-TASTE and a lot of detailed instructions" arrived to the hut in the Alps together with a free present of "tasting spoon". I hope it was meant as a joke. How can you otherwise politely explain the small print at the bottom: don't forget to wash your spoon between tastings? Did Clooney do?
I don't drink coffee in the afternoon. And my sleepy brain can't see the point of this in the morning, but keeps wondering: why didn't they copy the last stage of wine tasting? Just don't forget to spit it out. And try the next one. From a different coffee-maker.

Tuesday 5 June 2018


Finger food is an exciting topic. Common sense helps. If it jumps off the plate when touched with the knife, lay down your arms. Use your fingers. (Washing them before and after is not optional).

Let us know what you think about table manners.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

If you are not sure which fork to take, Let us know what you think about table manners.

"Relax. No one else knows what they're doing, either."


Thursday 22 March 2018

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ricky Gervais's take on colateral benefit of table manners Let us know what you think about table manners.

“If your boss is getting you down, look at him through the prongs of a fork and imagine him in jail.”
Ricky Gervais
Picture: An angel of political correctness for the Sunday Times. photo credit; Ray Burmiston 

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Lack of table manners could be deadly.
Let us know what you think about table manners.

I've heard it millions of times - chew your food properly. 20 times till you swallow? 40?  But instructions always lacked a convincing argumentation. Till now. Chew it properly or you might be dead.
Delicious but deadly mochi: The Japanese rice cakes that kill
Two people have died in Japan and several are in a critical condition after choking on traditional rice cakes as part of the new year celebrations.
They may seem harmless, but each year the hard-to-eat snack claims several lives, prompting annual warnings from officials.

What is a mochi?

The cakes, known as mochi, are cute round buns made of soft and chewy rice.
The rice is first steamed and then pounded and mashed.
Men in loincloths pounding rice Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mochi-pounding at a shrine in Tokyo
The resulting sticky rice mass is then formed into the final mochi shape and baked or boiled.
Families traditionally celebrate New Year by cooking a vegetable broth in which they heat the mochi.

How do they kill?

The buns are chewy and sticky. Given they are far bigger than bite-sized, they need to be laboriously chewed before swallowing.
Anyone who can't chew properly - like children, or the elderly - will be likely to find them hard to eat.
Mochi on a tray Image copyright AFP
Image caption If you can't chew them, please cut them, emergency services urge
If not chewed but simply swallowed, the sticky mochi gets stuck in the throat - and can lead to suffocation.
According to Japanese media, 90% of those rushed to hospital from choking on their new year's dish are people aged 65 or older.

What's a safe way to eat them?

Chew, chew, chew. If that's not possible, the rice cakes need to be cut into smaller pieces.
Each year, authorities issue public warnings in the run-up to the new year festivities advising that people - especially the very young and elderly - should only eat mochi cut down to smaller little chunks.
Yet despite the warnings, each year there continue to be deaths linked to the dish.
At the turn of 2014 to 2015, the number of casualties peaked at nine. In 2016 it was one, while last year two people died.
Each year, many more end up in critical condition in hospitals across the country.